Hung: “The Rita Flower”, or “The Indelible Stench”
Posted by therebelprince on August 19, 2009
Great guest performances and some logical plot follow-ups make this episode worthwhile, even if we’re beginning to feel in a bit of a holding pattern.
Ray and Jemma’s relationship is ambiguous at best: he’s got feelings for her, while she’s still indulging her fantasies – and paying him for it. Even when Ray does pluck up the courage to ask her out on a real date, I’m not sure if it’s going to work out for him. Is this all part of her fantasy? Does she still think of him as a prostitute? Will Ray end up heartbroken? My answer is yes.
Meanwhile, trying to be his own pimp may not work out for Ray, but it sure gives us some great moments with Mrs. Koontz (Alanna Ubach) next door. I have no doubt that her husband will find out by season’s end, but I won’t feel sorry for the douchebag at all. In the meantime, Ray’s proven that he can attract the wealthy mature set: he’s just gotta find a way to convince them to pay. It’s an adequate and enjoyable episode for Ray, but there’s not much to talk about in terms of development. Ray’s conflicted: check. Ray’s got a “beautiful penis”: check.
Tanya gets most of the interesting moments this week with a new boyfriend Pierce (Joshua Leonard) and her mother (Rhea Perlman). Pierce pushes Tanya to resume her writing, an art that has been lulled into submission by editing, and message cookies, and all sorts of other forms of slightly more marketable skills. Tanya’s a wreck these days but between Pierce and a final confrontation with Floyd, in which she realises (we hope) that the negative things he said to her were as abstract and useless as the positive, she makes the decision to confront her mother about perceived artistic blockages.
Perlman is great here, portraying the relaxed ageing hippie with ease, but also moving when she realises that Tanya’s childhood poem is about their inability to communicate. There’s not really a lot to say about what happens this week: all of the performances are solid and things feel a lot more centered with just the two storylines. The relationship between Jemma and Ray is still too clouded for us to understand, until we can fully grasp her motivations and the sense of loneliness (or loss?) that pervades her. The relationship between Tanya and her mother, however, is wonderfully complex. She does love her daughter, and tries to encourage her, but at the same time there is a distinct feeling that Tanya has never lived up to her promise (somehow, Tanya’s mother even manages to put her down for not putting bits of paper in the cookies even as she complains about the papers themselves).
I’m not sure we’re going to know the point of the season – if one exists – until its end, So far, I’m enjoying the characters, and the general unexpectedness of the events. I’m also liking the natural flow of things: if a relationship develops, it can take centre stage even if it is at odds with the alleged formula. But I’m also beginning to feel like we’re circling a bit aimlessly. I know it’s only seven episodes in, but what is the series hoping to achieve? Ray’s prostitution appears to have been more a catalyst for events than the actual focus of them. And even then, while the secondary characters like Jessica move along slowly, Tanya and Ray seem to exhaust several plot options each episode and then skip to the next.
I guess I’d say that this has been an enjoyable freshman season. But next year, Hung will need to give us more scope and a more centered production overall. Otherwise, I daresay we’ll have another Californication on our hands, with plotlines and characters spiralling away from each other and falling apart, and a simple premise becoming just that: simple.